Teach healthy eating

Provide three nutritious meals supplemented with two to three healthy snacks daily.

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Toddler serving size

The typical serving size for a toddler is about 1/4 of what an adult size serving would be, so you would only expect a toddler to eat 1/4 of a slice of bread, 1-2 tablespoons of vegetables, or 1 ounce of meat.

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Getting past the “picky-eater” stage

If your child is going through a picky-eater stage, invite over a friend who is the same age or slightly older whom you know "likes to eat."

Your child will catch on. Group feeding lets the other kids set the example.

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Six servings of grains

Kids ages 12 to 24 months need at least six servings of grains each day, so snack time is definitely a prime opportunity to sneak some in. Cheerios and other low-sugar cereals are a great quick and easy option.

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Sippy cups and excess

Toddlers that are allowed to carry their bottle or sippy cup of milk around all day can actually over drink.

Getting too much milk throughout the day can curb your toddler’s appetite at mealtime. And unlike formula or breast milk, cow’s milk is not complete nutrition. It doesn’t contain iron, so a diet heavy in milk can result in anemia.

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Coconut milk is not real milk

Coconut milk is not really milk and doesn’t provide the same nourishment as normal milks. It contains a lot of fat and provides little else of value to the diet and cannot be used to replace other milks.

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Milk guidelines

When deciding on the milk to give your child follow these guidelines: Give full cream milk to children between 1 and 2 years of age.

Whole milk has 4% fat. Children over 2 years of age do not need full cream milk. Choose low fat (reduced fat) milk. Low fat milk has 1 to 2% fat. Don’t give skim milk (’99.9% fat free’) to children under 5 years old.

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Healthy snacks are the key

For picky eaters between the ages of 1 and 3, healthy snacks at regular intervals are key. Toddlers have small appetites, so they won’t eat much at each meal. But if you give them regular snacks, they’ll get in all of their nutrients.

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Toddlers and meal time

Most toddlers will not eat three meals a day but will generally prefer to eat 5 to 6 smaller meals.

 If you feed your toddler whole foods then you will find that they will get much more energy and be sustained for longer periods of time than if you use refined high energy foods which have very little nutritional value.

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Growth and diet in child’s second year

Growth slows down in a child’s second year. This means toddlers often have smaller appetites and need less food.

The amount eaten from day to day can change dramatically. Although this sometimes worries parents, this change is normal and doesn’t mean your child is being difficult or is unwell.

From: betterhealth.vic.gov.au Opens in new window

Think fresh!

Serve as much fresh food as possible. When our babies are small we tend to stew apples, pears and other fruit, but when they no longer need to have mushy food, transition to fresh fruits.

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Weaning of the bottle

By the end of the first year, your child may be well onto the cup and off the bottle.

Introducing a cup should be done slowly. Start by giving water or juice in a cup. Try serving milk in a cup at one meal. Slowly replace the bottle with a cup at each meal.

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Nutrient-dense foods

Nutrient-dense foods that most children are willing to eat include:, Avocados, Pasta, Broccoli, Peanut butter, Brown rice and other grains, Potatoes, Cheese, Poultry, Eggs, Squash, Fish, Sweet potatoes, Kidney beans, Tofu and Yogurt.

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The Food Guide Pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid for young children (view pyramid) was designed by the US Dept. of Agriculture to promote healthy nutrition in children from the age of 2 – 6 years. It is meant to be a general guide to daily food choices.

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When tots start eating meat

Meat is started somewhere between 9 and 12 months of age.

Your daughter’s doctor recommended the upper age to start meats. The primary concern for starting meat is that it is a good source of iron and iron deficiency anemia is the primary nutritional deficiency in infants and children.

By age one, she should be consuming about 2 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and eggs group per day. One serving would consist of about 1 ounce or 1-2 Tbsp. of any of these.

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Offer tots a nibble tray

Offer a nibble tray. Toddlers like to graze their way through a variety of foods, so why not offer them a customized smorgasbord!

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Breastfed infants and weight gain

Though they tend to have rounder more developed cheek muscles developed from sucking, breast fed infants gain weight at a slower rate than bottle fed infants especially after 6 months of age.

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Limiting liquids

If your toddler is drinking too much milk and/or juice, she may be too full to eat, so follow the typical recommendations of 16-24 ounces of milk and 4-6 ounces of juice.

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Toddler breastfeeding and formula

If your toddler is still breastfeeding then try to continue this as long as you both wish, as there are so many health benefits for both of you.

If your toddler is formula fed, he can now change to cow’s milk and this can be from a cup. He will only need 16 to 24 ounces of milk a day as he is eating foods from all of the other food groups.

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Mixing new foods with old favorites

Keep the old, while bringing in the new: It is best to introduce a new food when served with a food he already likes.

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